Pearl River Superintendent of Schools. Dr. John Morgano sent out a letter to parents and residents of the district Tuesday morning announcing that he will recommend opting out of Race to the Top at a special board of education meeting 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the district administration building.
Race to the Top is a federal grant program funded in 2009. More details are available here. The district is calling for the special meeting Wednesday because the New York State Education Department deadline to opt out is Oct. 31.
Morgano explained in the letter that opting out of Race to the Top does not remove Pearl River's obligation to teach Common Core Learning Standards, administer New York State assessments or comply with APPR regulations for evaluating teachers and administrators.
"The cost of this action is $4,278," Morgano wrote, "This is the amount of money that we would have received this year as part of the '$10,000 over four years' grant that we were eligible to receive. We believe it is a small price to pay for unanswered questions and concerns regarding your child's privacy rights."
Morgano's full letter is posted on the Pearl River School District website here. He cited the protection of the privacy of Pearl River students as the reason to opt out of Race to the Top. The issue had been raised in previous board of education meetings this fall, with parents expressing concerns regarding what would be done with their children's information.
The New York State Education Department entered into a contract with the private company inBloom, which provides a data dashboard that parents, teachers and administrators can use to view a child's information. One issue raised is the possibility of the data dashboard collecting information beyond what the district provides.
Morgano joined a group of approximately 50 district superintendents in a meeting with NYSED representatives last week to discuss the issue.
"When we asked State Education Department representatives if information that is currently not being collected would be collected in the near future, they said that they did not know," Morgano wrote. "I find this troubling and concerning. There are simply too many unanswered questions."